CK Public Health raises red flag over possible service cuts

(© Can Stock Photo / duiwoy55)

The health unit in Chatham-Kent is reporting service cuts and layoffs could be on the horizon if provincial funding doesn’t materialize.

A risk management plan authored by Director of CK Public Health Teresa Bendo stated under-used services that are not mandatory and are provided by others will have to be reviewed and could be cut or reduced because of provincial underfunding. CK Public Health said the disruption to programs and services due to the COVID-19 pandemic is currently its most significant risk.

Health officials added they continue regular meetings with unions to inform them of issues that could end up in job losses. Councillor Carmen McGregor said the underfunding can’t continue because it’s affecting local health priorities and standards.

“I know we’ve sent letters to the province about the need for funding to be able to continue with our practices and what we can’t afford that is putting us at risk,” said McGregor. “Even though this report is going to the province that we point out that is where the risk management is an issue — with support and funding for our public health programs.”

McGregor said she is not surprised the public health unit is having a problem with its risk management plan because of the lack of funding. The risk management plan calculates the overall risk exposure of each of the risks identified by the board of health based on its likelihood and impact. The health board previously submitted the plan to the province along with a letter.

For now, the CK Public Health Unit is maintaining essential services and has hired eight temporary staff to address the problem over the next 18 months to two years. It has also cross-trained staff for contact tracing and case management, employed temporary agencies for administrative staff support, and has managed planned staff vacancies.